About a year ago I developed both Lyme disease and a fluctuating thyroid, on top of many other things. I had just ended a seven year track of vegetarianism and resumed eating an animal-based diet. At this time, my health was at rock bottom and I was practically crawling to get around. During this time the doctors noticed that my vitamin levels were at an ultimate low, and they advised what felt like a thousand supplements and antibiotics.
This was when I knew I needed a change. I wanted to feel like Hannah again, so I resumed my vegetarian diet. But then, of course, I developed an allergy to milk and eggs, so I had to take my diet to a whole new level. Trust me, this was not easy. I was used to having 12-14 eggs a day. YES, 12-14! And quite honestly, ice cream was my utmost weakness. However, my body was calling for a change and I figured once I started to balance my vitamin levels out, I could eventually go back to my old eating habits.
Now, I think I have made it pretty clear that my initial plan was not to be vegan and that there was no moral decision that had gone into my eating conversion. This mindset stuck with me for about four months. I began calling myself vegan at this point because it described my eating habits fairly well and in the simplest form. I was not checking labels for milk derivatives, egg byproducts, and honey. I also was not checking my brands, and every now and then I would allow my stomach to suffer because my ice cream addiction got the best of me.
Then I had a revelation; I started reading articles and watching videos that talked about the exploitation of animals and foreign labor. I also started to look at the resources that go into supporting these animals and how it ties into the world food crisis, which is not so far away.
I became a strong advocate of the bees, animal rights, and my health. Eventually, the way I was eating began to spill into my daily life; I started to buy new products, all of which were animal cruelty free, vegan, and, if I was lucky, biodegradable.
My diet was becoming my life. Hell, it is my life. However, I usually feel misunderstood. I am constantly being asked, “Why are you vegan?” and getting the most confused looks. I did not choose veganism to inconvenience the people around me. I chose it because my body was in need of new outlets, and through this, I was able to take off my blinders and see the immense amount of injustice.
I am telling this story not to scorn you, but to show/prove that life takes us many places, and I believe passion can be found through the darkest times. I am encouraging you all to be curious and to explore your health, food, and daily routine. You may find something out about yourself, something that shakes you to your core.
My diet was and continues to be a journey of self-exploration, along with questioning my limits. It is an ongoing battle, but I think these are the steps we should be taking in order to grow. We must begin to challenge ourselves and, when we are ready, others too.